Still working his way back to full strength after missing a sizable chunk of the season to injury, we haven’t seen the best version of Khris Middleton in 2023. Still, there’s reason for patience with the former All-Star. His numbers are starting to perk back up and, when healthy, very few No. 2 options can impact the game like Middleton.
Dejounte Murray is one of the most impactful two-way playmakers in the sport — a rangy on-ball stopper who doubles as an elite table-setter and slashing scorer. His partnership with Trae Young is still evolving but Murray arguably deserves the least blame of anyone for Atlanta’s disappointing season.
Injuries have decimated Brandon Ingram’s season, and the Pelicans as a whole have suffered under the weight of several key absences. It’s unfortunate. When healthy, Ingram still supplies a diverse complementary skill set. He’s an excellent shooter and playmaker for his size, really stressing defenses as a multi-faceted threat when Zion, CJ, and the core is all healthy.
Kyrie Irving continues to defy physics with his stop-start handles, unreal body control, and feather-soft touch. He possesses arguably the best footwork we’ve ever seen from a guard. That said, as great as Irving’s skill set is, he does have a tendency to ice out teammates. It’s fair to question the extent to which Irving elevates others, even when he’s at his most individually brilliant.
Draymond Green remains master of the little things. His rapid-fire decision-making makes Golden State’s offense click. On the defensive end, Green was once revolutionary. He can still guard multiple positions and he’s almost never out of position. Even at 33 years old, he regularly out-smarts and out-hustles the NBA’s best players.